By Anathi Godlo
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 9 of VARSITY News.
On 29 August 2020 a nationwide protest against gender-based violence (GBV) was held in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. The protests began at 11am and this wasn’t the first GBV protest that I had attended in Cape Town, in fact just a year ago we were outside parliament protesting for the exact same reason. We were addressed by the president Cyril Ramaphosa who made several promises to us that included the law changing where convicted abusers/rapists would receive a life sentence in prison with no bail. With no surprise, nothing has changed since a year ago, nothing has been put in place to protect women and children of South Africa and instead it seems that we are being murdered and raped at a much higher rate.
Early Saturday morning my two friends and I headed towards parliament with our placards that read ‘Am I Next?’ and ‘Who do we call when the police are also the murderers/rapists?’ these were prompted by the news of Nathaniel Julius who was murdered by the police, the everyday news of another women found dead and a News24 headline that read ‘Child gets raped by police officer’. This has become the new norm in South Africa, and we are once again saying enough is enough, but no one seems to hear us. This was evident at the protest when with just fifteen or twenty minutes of being there, the police dropped stun grenades and teargas on the peaceful protestors who were there fighting for the rights of the women and children of this country.
I am aware that the protests weren’t legal however I am appalled at how quick the police were at enforcing their violence on the peaceful protestors, I ask why they aren’t as angry as we are and why they are unable to address us in a manner that does not involve stun grenades and teargas which seems to be the only thing they truly know. I go back to the placard that I was holding, ‘Who do we call when the police are also the murderers/rapists?’. I found myself drowning in feelings of rage and heartache that led me to post a video onto my Instagram where I expressed my anger towards the police and our president who has failed the women and children of this country.
I can’t help but wonder how many more have to die before our government recognises GBV as a top priority and a disease that just keeps spreading. I wonder why it is that peaceful protesters are treated like criminals when rapists, murderers and abusers continue to walk free. The cries of the women and children of this country continue to be our anthem but the big dogs in power can’t hear us, they don’t want to hear us or perhaps they are too busy stealing from the poor to even acknowledge or care about us…in South Africa our land!